Man, I think part of the reason it took me so long to realize I’m a lesbian is because romance stories SO OFTEN look EXACTLY like my past relationships with men. Like, literally indistinguishable, to the point where I can watch those straight romcoms now and very easily interpret the main characters as lesbians dealing with the overwhelming pressures of compulsory heterosexuality.
Like, first she is
annoyed by the guy, okay? She has zero interest, she finds him tedious
and sees no reason she should be interested in him, or she sees him
purely as a friend and does not expect any kind of romance. Holy hell could I relate to that!
then they’re forced together by some circumstance – his persistent interest or
their jobs or being literally stranded or whatever – and it’s
incredibly awkward but they eventually find a way to coexist together
and she even discovers positive aspects of his personality. He’s not
such a bad guy, he’s alright. And that happened in a lot of my relationships with men, too. I learnt to tolerate them and even appreciate their good qualities.
And then often without any kind of active choice on her part suddenly they’re in a context where he wants more
And here’s where my interpretations of those scenes differed
from what the writers intend. See, I thought the hesitations of those
in-love heterosexual women were the same as my own total lack of interest and how I had to work myself up to perform romantic love – or sexual interest – for someone I wasn’t actually, it turns out, attracted to.
it looks, from the outside, exactly like the chain of events in my own relationships with men. When it seemed like I’d
gone too far to gracefully extricate myself the right thing was to just… try my very hardest to be in love,
to try to love the guy as wholeheartedly as all people need to be loved, or do my best to at least play the part.
thought that was what real romance was, I thought those were the usual internal
workings of a woman deeply in love, to decide to try to love someone purely
because she’d reached a point where he wanted more and she’d gone this
far and how could she not? Especially if he’d made some big romantic gesture, or needed saving, or was less annoying than initially presumed.
“Love as a choice” made sense to me then in a way it was never intended to mean. I thought I was choosing to be in love with these guys. When straight women chose to stay, I saw them choosing to be in love. In the back of my mind I always knew I could flip my “feelings” off like a switch, but I chose to stay and perform love, and really I think I thought that was normal.
It looks so similar from the outside.
It took falling in love with women and realizing how different my feelings are for women to notice that, wait a second, was that love? Or did I just feel like I’d reached some kind of point of no return and had to see the relationship through because that’s what you’re supposed to do?